Tag Archives: ic measurement

Measurement: taking the easy way out

It’s 2017 and internal comms still has a credibility problem – too often it’s marginalised in favour of ‘sexier’ comms; Public Relations, Marketing, Advertising…even Social Media.

To really prove IC’s worth, we need evidence to back it up. Hard, empirical data that proves IC’s impact.

For that, we need to turn to measurement.

Measuring comms is notoriously difficult, bordering on impossible. But it’s no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have.

The foundation to rock-solid measurement is to identify and agree your communication objectives. Without objectives, everything else is pointless.

The problem with objectives is that, too often, IC professionals fixate on outputs rather than outcomes.

What is an output?
An output is an easy-to-distinguish, tangible communication result — think email interactions, pageviews etc.

What is an outcome?
An outcome is something more subjective — think behavioural changes, corporate culture shifts etc.

It’s easy to see why IC professionals choose to focus on outputs, they’re inherently easier.

Think about how easy it is to share intranet statistics that show thousands of colleagues visited a certain page and stayed on it for a set amount of time – but does this really tell you if they absorbed the information?

Will they change their behaviour after reading the content? The real value of IC lies in its ability to perform ‘outcomes’.

So, how do you begin to measure ‘outcomes’? Well, once you’ve identified your communication objectives, you need to be able to turn outcomes into measurable data – either quantitative (numbers) or qualitative (words).

For example, your company has a new process that all staff need to use. You produce a printed leaflet, posters for public spaces, a company-wide email and an intranet story.

But how do we find out if employees have actually changed their behaviour as a result of the comms activity?

Let’s split it into quantitative measures:
? How many copies of the printed material were picked up?
? How many people opened the company-wide email?
? What were the statistics for the intranet story for the duration of the campaign?
? Line managers to supply numbers of staff adhering to new process.

And now qualitative measures:
? Ask a focus group of colleagues how effective the comms were for them. Did they pick up a leaflet? See a poster? Read the email, or intranet story?
? Ask the focus group if they understood the message of the comms. Was it clear?
? Ask the focus group if they have now started using the new process. If they have, what were the contributing factors?

It’s only by taking the results of all of the above together that we can start to paint a detailed picture of the ‘outcome’ – did employees change their behaviour? And why did they (or didn’t they) change their behaviour?

The beauty of this approach for IC professionals is that it not only proves your impact on the business, but helps you implement better comms campaigns in the future. Win/win.

Guest blog: how to be a real IC pro

Sean Williams, owner of Communication AMMO and managing consultant for True Digital Communications, blogs about why measurement is the key to better IC for your business.

We shouldn’t need to say it. As internal communicators, we’re one of the few in an organisation who can take the pulse of the firm. Even in our editorial roles, we talk to people all the time.

We (hopefully) know the business, its goals, challenges, strengths. We understand leadership’s priorities and how communication can help move them forward.

We’re the experts. You might say that in some ways, we need to change how we approach our work. We have to change as professionals.

We need to make decisions based on facts and data, not conjecture and conventional wisdom. That takes research.

I’m not saying it all has to be quantitative, academically bullet-proof (though that doesn’t hurt), but we’re the only ones who can bring employee intelligence forward to the leadership.

We need to find the balance between just executing and doing proper outreach, judging the effectiveness of our messaging, channels, tools and techniques.

Imagine a conversation with your boss like this:

Boss – What’s happening with our employees?

You – We got 400 hits on our strategy story last week!

Boss – So?

You – Uhhhhhh.

Been there? It should be more like this:

Boss – What’s happening with our employees?

You – We got a lot of comments on the strategy story. Most were OK, but a couple of them make me think we need to test some other ways of explaining the strategy to make it more relevant to more people. I followed up with a couple of calls to some people, and I have some ideas about what to do differently.

B – Tell me more!

Sean Williams
Sean Williams

That’s a different dynamic. We need more research up front, more evaluation during our communication activities, and more measurement afterwards to connect with business objectives.

I know internal commsters are totally slammed, but this is about being a serious business person. No other department gets away with ignoring this vital discipline.

The fact is that the ‘traditional’ IC person – the ex-journalist who primarily is a writer/editor, who has little experience within the operations of the business, and/or whose educational background is outside the business world – may be considered an endangered species.

In the US, IC is usually part of HR, PR, or occasionally the legal department. There is little professional education focused on the strategic assets of IC, except for the Corporate Executive Board (which now offers the IC Black Belt programme begun by Melcrum).

There still is too much emphasis on the ‘tools’ of IC – enterprise social networks, intranets, SharePoint and the like – and not enough on the research, measurement and evaluation that tests connections between employee communication effectiveness and business results.

Here are three things that I believe all IC people should focus on right away:

1. Brush up your research skills. We need not become statisticians, but we should gain familiarity with the common measures at the output level – and test the connections to both communication outcomes and to business impact. These can be quantitative and/or qualitative. Take a class, for heaven’s sake. Then do some interviews, convene some focus groups, send out a SurveyMonkey – and use the data to change and improve your plans.

2. Do a time study. Take a hard look at what you and your team are doing day to day. Which activities contribute most significantly to organisational objectives? Which don’t? Stop doing things that don’t add value. Of course, this is a difficult road to drive – but you can refocus on higher value-added activities. The proof will be in the pudding.

3. Ask more questions. We need to understand what is changing, or needs to change, in our organisation. We need to know what we’re trying to accomplish, the objectives and goals of those changes. Ask ‘why?’ What are the reasons behind the decisions we’re making? And, not least, what is the effect on our people? The easy acronym is CORE – it’s what our people want to know about virtually everything.

If we dedicate ourselves to these three tasks, we’ll be well on the way to becoming the IC pros of the future.

Guest blog: Three secrets to internal communications measurement

Independent communications practitioner Jane Revell shares her secrets to effective IC measurement.

Wherever I go a recurring theme is raised by internal communications people: the ongoing challenge to measure our work and demonstrate return on investment.

Research by Newsweaver shows that although 95 per cent of internal communications professionals say measurement is important, it is the activity people spend the least time on.

With more information at our fingertips than ever before, measurement must not continue to be our Achilles heel. Here are three simple ways to get into the measurement cycle today.

1. Know what you want to achieve – what do you want people to think, feel and do as a result?

Measurement is often considered only after the work has been done. This needs to change.

Whether you are launching a new digital tool, holding an employee event or creating internal videos, you need to set out the purpose of your internal communications (what you want people to think, feel or do) from the outset as you plan your activity.

Set SMART objectives and know how and when you will measure before you start.

2. Make time to measure monthly

Measurement is regularly put to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list and often ‘bumped’ for something ‘more important’. It needs to be prioritised with time set aside each month to measure against the objectives set.

Measuring monthly with a quarterly review is a good approach. A top tip is to establish a process of reporting on findings to senior leaders to demonstrate the value of internal communications and our role in helping to achieve business goals.

The measurement you do will depend on the objectives you have set, however, tools you can use include:

  • Pulse surveys (well-designed questions that focus on finding out if you have achieved the objectives set)
  • Focus groups and interviews with employees
  • Analytics (intranet, email, apps, microsites)
  • Event feedback
  • Quotes from conversations with people across the organisation
  • Conversations and comments via internal social media, blogs and direct to leaders and managers.

3. Create a measurement dashboard

This isn’t as scary or complex as it sounds. The idea is to simply reflect on measurement results so you can track trends and identify any challenges or issues so that you can review and change your approach.

An internal communications measurement dashboard should include:

  1. An overview of the business goals you are working towards
  2. Overall communications aims
  3. Sections for each objective set with a summary of the measurement findings under each to show process against the objective
  4. Visual aids, graphs, pull-out numbers, direct quotes from employees.


Useful resources:

CIPR Inside measurement matrix

Kevin Ruck ICQ10 model